Earth’s Extremes

Frozen Zanskar River/Ladakh, India

I planned this particular post some time ago when I first watched this new series on The Discovery Channel called Human Planet.  Has anyone seen it?  It is an eight part documentary that describes humans and their association with the area in which they live.  The show is phenomenal from beginning to end, including “Behind The Scenes.”  It first aired in January of this year, but each installment is run from time to time still, on that same channel.  As I watched each week, it brought up a serious question.  I don’t know if anyone has ever thought of this, but we were never given an opportunity to choose where we would be born.  Also, as far as nationality or ethnicity – no choice.  Like each of these individuals showcased in every program, that could very easily have been you, me or the neighbor across the street.  Of course, if that were the case you wouldn’t know it.

The reality is that their lives, and the conditions in which they inhabit are cruel, and extreme.  But, what is unique about all of this is, they don’t see it that way as this is all they know.  I mean, you couldn’t place the day by day person from this country in one of those environments and expect them to survive such conditions.  I think my favorite episode is called, “Not Your Everyday Commute.”  Filmed in Tibet, it presents a father taking his children to school, where they will stay for six months.  But, not just any place of learning; to get there it takes six days, and is a sixty mile trek through the Zanskar Valley – a part of that same mountain range in the Himalayas where in winter the temperatures are as severe as the landscape.  In this case, dipping low enough to create frozen rivers and ice sheets.  He drops the children off, and then, heads out again to return home.  The intensity of the regions exhibited in the series span from the heat of the African planes to this father’s journey on ice to a tribe living in trees, hundreds of feet from the jungle floor.  And, after the home is built in the trees, the smallest toddler even knows how far to journey across the floor of their new abode.

The cultures publicized here are to the end of the spectrum – otherwise they would have no program.  But, I say each lifestyle is intense enough to seriously make one take another peek at his/her own environment.  I must also say, if I didn’t watch this particular television event revealing the different surroundings, I wouldn’t know they even existed.  Now, thinking of my everyday life, I have to thank my Creator for placing me in the area He did.  Needing to be jolted out of the everyday boredom?  Take a gander at one of these productions.  It makes me think of man, needing to push himself to the limits of his existence.  I would think most of us are content with our being as we know it – there are others, however, who need to….oh, I don’t know, let’s say scale a part of the Andes or something on the other side of the spectrum like daring themselves on the scariest rollercoaster ride in the amusement park.

What separates us? What takes someone from western society to the extremes of what we have learned is another’s everyday life – pushing themselves.  But, now that we know of the other astonishing human beings, when you think of it – the westerner is only pushing himself to try to achieve something another person already does daily.  Okay, thinking of the father in Tibet, he won’t try to climb Mt. Everest, he merely lives among the Himalayan mountain range.  The son learning to steal a young eagle and teach it to hunt fox won’t try it another way just to expose his strength.  Then, what am I saying? I’m so very happy I am located in the west.  Yes, we are spoiled, but personally, this standard of living is all that I know.  If you’ve questioned the existence of a higher power in the past, once you have viewed one of this episodes, it should help you realize we weren’t just flung out here, and told to make it the best way we can.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

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